The Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders qualified for their second consecutive bowl appearance and will challenge the MAC champion, Miami University Redhawks. Both schools need a victory to impress future recruits. Which team will get the leg up?
The early spread on this game is Redhawks (-1.5). Here are seven of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper’s Picks.
The Blue Raiders have the third highest total of interceptions in FBS football with 20, only behind the Miami Hurricane and Buffalo Bulls. This could be an issue against the Redhawks since their 17 defensive interceptions is tied for eleventh with a number of teams.
#2 Quality Victories
Neither team had any victories against quality opponents. The Redhawks were dominated in games against the Florida Gators, Missouri Tigers, and even the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Blue Raiders suffered a 42-14 loss at Georgia Tech and a 24-17 regular season opening defeat to the Minnesota Golden Gophers amidst a rather soft schedule.
#3 Varying Styles
The Blue Raiders rely on a rushing offense supported with a mobile QB in Dwight Dasher. The Redhawks rely on a prolific passing attack led by sophomore QB Zac Dysert. However, freshmen Austin Bocher will likely start this game as Dysert’s been out with a stomach injury. Don’t underestimate Bocher, however: He’s 3-0 since Dysert’s injury and possibly playing better than him.
The Redhawks are ranked 26th in rushing defense and have had much more difficulty against the pass. The Blue Raiders are ranked 25th in passing defense and have had difficulty against the run. Basically, this match-up is strength-on-strength and weakness-on-weakness.
#4 Blue Raiders Turning Moment
The Blue Raiders season turned around after a 99 yard fumble return for a touchdown. At 3-6, the Raiders were down 26-13 and ready to go down 20 to their Western Kentucky rival. That play seemed to change the tempo of the Blue Raiders season.
They ended up winning that game 27-26 and finished the season on a three game winning streak, including a road victory against the Sun Belt Champion FIU Panthers that gave them this opportunity.
#5 High Scoring?
The GoDaddy.Com Bowl has generally been high scoring. Since 1999, the winner has always scored 28 or more points. Since 2003, only one time did a winner score less than 45.
Despite the Redhawks 33rd ranked passing offense, they’ve only scored over thirty once this year, and that was 31 against the Colorado State Rams. Blue Raiders have scored in the 30s against Division I teams on three different occasions and haven’t been held to under thirteen all season.
#6 Greatest Improvement in College Football History?
From the Miami (OH) Redhawks ESPN Clubhouse Page:
“Miami’s win against Northern Illinois moves them from a +7 win improvement to a +8 win improvement since last season. If Miami can win its bowl game, its +9 win improvement would be the highest in FBS history.”
The Redhawks can finish 10-4 with a victory against the Blue Raiders, a year removed from 1-11.
The Redhawks starting quarterback (Zac Dysert) is doubtful with a stomach injury, as of 12/10. They also have two randomly used receivers who are pushing themselves to return before the bowl game. These injuries are critical as the Redhawks rely on a heavy passing attack amidst their 114th ranked rushing offense.
The Blue Raiders injury report is empty besides two players who have been out since September.
I believe the injury to Zac Dysert and their lack of experience in bowl games will impact the Redhawks. With two mid-majors, I’m taking the team with a senior quarterback over the team starting a backup freshmen quarterback. Dasher has led the Blue Raiders to victories over the Maryland Terrapins in past seasons, and I believe he’ll want to go out on top in his final game, especially after a controversial and disappointing 2010 campaign.
As a bonus, the total is 48. The total of this bowl game has exceeded that every season but one since 2000.
Of course, I’m a tad biased…
Picks against the Spread: Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (+1.5)
Straight: Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders
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Cooper’s Picks, December 13 2010.
College Football Statistics, Rivals.com. December 13, 2010.
College Football Injuries Via covers.com. December 13, 2010.
Miami Redhawks ESPN Clubhouse. December 13, 2010
MTSU Blue Raiders ESPN Clubhouse, December 13, 2010.
GoDaddy.Com Bowl Recaps. December 13, 2010.